Friday, 4 May 2012

#insidelive Manchester Arndale enters the cybersphere

I've just got back from a rather interesting trip to Manchester Arndale, one which fused new media and fashion in a way few retailers can even begin to understand.

Yep, it's true. I do. Me with my new favourite PJ tee and the rather funky branded goody bag

To celebrate the latest issue of the centre's in-house magazine, Inside Magazine, the pages of the magazine were brought to life with an interactive and digitally connected event expo in the middle of the centre's busiest thoroughfare, Exchange Court. It was hash-tag, QR Code, blogging, shopping, make-over madness! Allow me to explain...

It's like this, Inside Magazine is a sixteen page print magazine distributed to 350,000 Manchester postcodes quarterly to showcase all things fashion, beauty and Manchester Arndale. As far as in-house publications go, Inside Magazine is a top read - precisely because it isn't exactly about reading. The pages offer an explosion of product, styled around various trends and themes, with little in the way of wordy copy to keep the experience as fast as the fashion! It's also printed on top quality paper and is handbag sized so it ticks all the boxes. 

Now, the #insidelive event took the magazine to the people with huge installations which replicated the style pages from the magazine. Around each giant page, mannequins modeled the clothes featured in the pages and QR codes offered passers-by the chance to quickly scan and enter competitions!

Around the installation, GHD provided free hair make-overs for shoppers and make-up artists were on hand to slap on some SS12 powders and creams. The whole event was also scented by The Fragrance Shop, whose Manchester Arndale store manager was almost bursting with excitement at the prospect of being the only Fragrance retailer allowed to spritz centre shoppers! 

Gents weren't exactly missed out, with two pages showcasing Gatsby and Retro Rocker trends but this was an event aimed at the girls and aim at girls it did.

However, I was impressed. Manchester Arndale are very new to new media, having only just set up a Twitter account to cool the storm which formed during the Manchester Riots where tweets broadcasted that the centre was razed to the ground! Whilst it was not true, at least it got Manchester Arndale into the Twittersphere! 

The event understood how new media can enhance the retail experience by ensuring that the customer is fully immersed into the experience, lock, stock and twitter handle! It also avoided the pitfall that stand-alone fashion expos can sometimes find themselves in, where the link between the event message and the till point is missed out. Whilst customers can't buy from the stand itself, store assistants throughout the centre were briefed and prepared for customers looking for the pieces showcased. Likewise, the QR codes offer shoppers the chance to win the look from the stand so with a little data-capture magic a link is forged to encourage repeat custom.

You can pop to Manchester Arndale #insidelive event over this bank holiday weekend for your free make-over or just to have a nosey. I would certainly recommend!

Oh, I nearly forgot: if you do pop by these are the discounts you can expect!

• Warehouse 20% off selected lines
• Coast 15% off boutique range
• Vero Moda 20% off selected lines
• Select 15% off selected lines
• Republic 10% off full price product (excluding G-Star,
Diesel and Police)
• Monsoon 15% off all Ladies wear
• Evans 10% off full price
• Oasis 20% off full price
• Guess 20% off selected lines
• Levi 20% off student discount
• Quiz 10% off all occasion wear
• New Look 10% off
• Aldo 20% off selected lines
• Garage 10% off
• Jake 20% off selected lines
• Dune 20% off
• Clarks 10% off
• Schuh 10% off
• G-Star Raw 20% off selected lines
• Foot Asylum 20% off selected lines
• Jack Jones 20% off selected lines

If you can't make it, have a look at Manchester Arndale TV online for behind the scenes videos from the current Inside Magazine issue!